On Tuesday, 17 July we had our first evening filled with tips and guidelines on how to improve your photos - even before you understand any technicalities like shutter, aperture, ISO and all that scary stuff. The focus was on composition, how to take good photos even when you only have a point-and-shoot camera or perhaps a camera-phone.The reasons behind why a photograph is a good photograph. Why does it evoke your emotions?
On Wednesday, 18 July it was Joe’s turn to do the talking and this time it was about the scary stuff. He discussed all the technicalities around photography, understanding your camera and to know what you actually need to do to take a correct exposed photograph.
He also talked us through the different light metering modes, white balance and shooting modes. Apart from Automatic, everyone know started to understand the other functions on their cameras too.
The practical outing was held at Combretum Park Nature Reserve just outside Nylstroom (or Modimole as it is now supposedly called) in Limpopo. This is also the location where BTA host their FGASA accredited field guide courses. Anywhere in the bush is always an ideal destination for a photographic outing. Most participants started to arrive on Friday 20 July where we had a relaxing evening around the campfire with some casual photo-chats in between. The remainder of people arrived early on Saturday morning to put their knowledge into practice.
It was straight into action immediately taking all cameras off the Auto function! Everyone got scared.... But after a quick familiarization session between man/women and camera things quickly started to change. Getting correct exposure was the first important aspect of the day and as soon as everyone knew where to change which settings, they felt more comfortable to take some photos on their own.
The effects of various shutter speeds were demonstrated and so was aperture and depth of field. It makes all the difference in the world once you start to see how f2.8 will influence your image compared to f16 for example. Lightbulbs went on and pretty much everyone “never knew that my camera could do that”!
A basic introduction to Macro photography and the equipment involved where discussed while looking at some amazing images of the most interesting creatures - up close! Lunch time was well deserved by now as most brains around have burnt up more energy then normal. It was important to fill up for the rest of the day still to come. Joe did a short introduction to timelapse photography and he also did a brief demo on the Shukuma dolly. It became clear that photography has a variety of genres that one can venture into, even with just some basic knowledge.
More practical shooting took place under the watchful eyes of Joe and myself. We also demonstrated the use of a reflector card and a diffuser. For some the speed of the shutter and the speed of their brains didn’t quite catch up yet. Others where still trying to get out of the depths of the fields while exposing their brains to so much, it started to cause some serious noise.
Not all was lost thanks to some tripods around resulting in steady shots here and there. When the sun said his goodbyes the crowd was still hanging around to see the light and how the colours in the sky will change over a period of time. While the cold air started to creep in we all started to creep a bit closer to the warming campfire for a good old braai. As the night went by everyone with a tripod had a go at photographing the stars. We were all gathered together with lenses pointed to the sky. Suddenly everyone was struck by amazement knowing that they could also take a photo of the stars!!
During the early hours of Sunday morning 22 July, long before sunrise, everyone started to cluster around for the last bit of practical shooting. Once again the rapidly changing light and colour variations in the sky was prominent. While learning how to control your exposure compensation when the light meter readings does not give you the desired effects, some of us where still slurping on coffee to ease the winter morning chill.
While the sun was shifting higher-up in the sky and the light became less desirable to photograph in, we all shared a sense of quietness knowing that we will go our separate ways again soon. Only now it would be with many more names to add to the “nice guy” and “nice girl” list. At the same time, tags to be included with all the names are passionate, enthusiastic and definitely hungry to learn! Fantastic people all round ;-)
How rewarding it was to see some of the images that people came up with! It was mind blowing to see that everyone came so far in such a short amount of time and we were overwhelmed with excitement to see how everyone improved. Most of all, it was great to see that everyone tried to put their knowledge into practice especially shooting from different viewpoints...
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